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The Definition of Cyberpunk Essay

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The Definition of Cyberpunk


In Bruce Sterling's article, "Cyberpunk in the Nineties," he explained how public opinion had defined himself, Rucker, Shiner, Shirley, and Gibson as the cyberpunk "gurus" in the 1980's. Because of being labeled cyberpunk "gurus," the public had come to understand the definition of cyberpunk as "anything that cyberpunks write." To break this definition of cyberpunk established by popular public opinion, I will pursue giving cyberpunk a more definite definition. After reading numerous cyberpunk fiction stories, I noticed reoccurring themes in these stories. I believe these themes can form a criteria under which a story can be defined as cyberpunk. These criteria are total enhancement and integration of everyday life by technology, some degree of pleasure (by the author) in explaining this technology, cyber-lingo, and some degree of global connectiveness.

The first criterion or theme, total enhancement and integration of everyday life by technology is probably the most obvious and vital in order for a story to be deemed cyberpunk. Why is it the most obvious and most vital? It is the most obvious because cyberpunk writers use the "everyday," that is, objects, concepts, or places we causally shrug off as normal, and integrate/enhance the normal with technology. A good example can be found in John Shirley's "Freezone." Upon entering the "Semiconductor" the scene is unusual but appears to be a everyday freak club. An occasional flare dots the audience. They have multi-colored hair that is styled straight up. In reaction to the flares and much more frequent than the flares are minimonos; they have ultra-straight hair falling down past their shoulders and uniform monochrome colored clothes. Anyway, the ...


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...d projecting its evolution in the future, he is not intimidated, therefore he is able to enjoy himself in explaining this concept or technology. Furthermore, because the author is reflecting off of a society so obsessed with detail, he is obligated to present his story is such a detailed fashion. Basically, I think, that if cyberpunk fiction fulfills its purpose then the four criteria will fall naturally into place and therefore these four criteria build the backbone of the definition of cyberpunk.





Works Cited


Sterling, Bruce, Ed. Mirrorshades. New York: Arbor House, 1988.

Cadigan, Pat. "Rock On"

Shirley, John. "Freezone"



Browning, Tonya, Ed. Writing About Cyberpunk. Austin: Abel's Copies, 1995.


McCaffrey, Larry. Storming the Reality Studio


Gibson, William. "Johnny Mnemonic"


Tiptree, James Jr. "The Girl Who Was Plugged In"


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